Provide your email for confirmation

Tell us a bit about yourself

country *
province *

why we ask about location

Please provide your email address

Login

To share your thoughts

Don't have an account?

Login with email

Check your inbox

We just sent a link to your inbox. Click the link to continue signing in. Can’t find it? Check your spam & junk mail.

Didn't get a link?

Sign up

Ready to get started

Already have an account?

Sign up with email

By signing up you agree to Rappler’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy

Check your inbox

We just sent a link to your inbox. Click the link to continue registering. Can’t find it? Check your spam & junk mail.

Didn't get a link?

Join Rappler+

How often would you like to pay?

Monthly Subscription

Your payment was interrupted

Exiting the registration flow at this point will mean you will loose your progress

Your payment didn’t go through

Exiting the registration flow at this point will mean you will loose your progress

[PODCAST] Making Space: Some sex workers think they don't need saving

In the underground sex work industry, there are stories of abuse, but there are also tales of women struggling to be respected for their bodily autonomy.

The sale of sex is illegal under the 90-year-old Revised Penal Code, which holds that "women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes."

In 2003, the state adopted a more sympathetic view for prostituted individuals when it enacted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, which saw people at the end of selling sex as victims. The Magna Carta of Women, signed into law in 2009, names prostitution as a form of violence against women.

This means that in the eyes of the law, people engaged in sex work are either criminals or victims.

In this episode of Making Space, Rappler's Michelle Abad speaks to Sharmila Parmanand, a PhD candidate for gender studies at the University of Cambridge who is writing her dissertation on sex workers in the Philippines. Parmanand argues that both perspectives on sex work in the law are problematic, as they deny people engaged in sex work from their political agency.

Parmanand noted that in her fieldwork interviews with over 100 sex workers in Metro Manila, many testified that they engaged in sex work as a rational choice among other precarious work environments like factories and house help, which were exploitative in other ways.

They said that the thing they feared the most was not their clients, nor their pimps, but the police. The police was "consistently" echoed as their biggest threat, Parmanand said.

Parmanand's research found that the highly stigmatized industry and the criminalization of selling sex has led to a distrust among sex workers and law enforcement, which leads to the reluctance to come forward when they are raped or abused. (READ: To cross coronavirus border, prostituted women abused by cops first)

The sex workers Parmanand talked to wished to be able to collectivize and advocate for themselves without stigma. These spaces, they hope, would also allow them avenues to report abuses when they happen, and respect their work when there are none. – Rappler.com

Making Space is Rappler's podcast on gender, health, education, social services, and everything in between. Listen to other episodes of Making Space on this page.